They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa! – Napoleon XIV | Top 40 Chart Performance, Story and Song Meaning

Chart Performance: Pop (#3); 1966

Story Behind The Song By Ed Osborne

We’ve had hits by a singing nun and dogs as well as a trio of chipmunks, yet, none match the sheer insanity of one by former psychiatric patient, Jerry Samuels. The session cost was cheap enough: fifteen bucks for recording voice, drums, and tambourine. The lyrics were exceedingly simple: mostly an endless repetition of the title. The hard part for Jerry was speeding up his voice, thus raising its pitch, while keeping the tempo constant – an extremely difficult task in those pre-digital days. The single listed They’re Coming To Take Me Away‘s performer as Napoleon XIV (Jerry liked the look of those roman numerals), whose disc drove deejays and fans crazy. Although protests by mental health professionals helped limit its entire chart run to just six weeks, Jerry’s ode became the fastest selling Warner Brothers single ever, selling a half a million copies in the first week .

This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2024 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.

Produced by:

  • A Jepalana Production

Lyrics Written by:

  • N. Bonaparte (Jerry Samuels)